Light Fantastic

Design / Life

What do you get when Perth architect Charlotte May dips a toe into lighting design? Evidently some impressive accolades and one mean piece of furniture.







Graduate architect Charlotte May, whose day job is at award-winning Hillam Architects, has a “hobby” that has just become a successful side hustle.

Her lighting design, the Cart Lamp, has just been shortlisted for the VIVID Emerging Designer awards, exhibited in the Melbourne Convention Centre and published in Inside Magazine issue #103.

“It was a huge surprise to be so well received,” Charlotte says. “I’m grateful to have exhibited and met so many talented young designers, whom I learnt so much from in such a short time.”

Indeed, Charlotte’s Cart Lamp has a bright future in the furniture design market.

This statement lamp was the result of pairing simple, sensuous materials with bold proportions. “The essence of the project was to create an adjustable desk lamp that can be disassembled into individual components and recycled,” says Charlotte. “My concept developed to allow for rotation of the lamp head/stem, increasing its functional potential.”


The composition of clean brass curves and robust black metal frame offers a certain sensitivity not usually associated with such a strong palette.

Through clean detailing, well considered materials and highly considered proportions, the design allows for a unique functionality and mobility.

“The cart supporting the lamp further adds to the functionality of the piece, as the three tiered surfaces each serve a purpose,” says Charlotte. “The central timber base provides a platform for making or enjoying drinks, while the raised platform above supports the lamp (alternatively, said drink if the opportunity presents itself).

“It is counter balanced by the lower shelf and acts as storage for your beverage of choice (or more, the world is your oyster).”

As her first piece, Charlotte didn’t expect to love product design as much as she did.

In my last semester of uni I undertook the ‘Architecture of Furniture’ unit which required the class to design an adjustable task lamp and an accompanying piece of furniture for it to sit on, in or under,” Charlotte says. “It was a great unit run by great teachers and opened my eyes to the intrinsic connections between architecture and product design.”

Charlotte has found that furniture design and her role at Hillam make great companions.


“Critically examining tangible, full scale junctions in furniture has been incredibly valuable to my skills as an architect,” she says.


Charlotte has plans to expand her range, currently designing a piece of furniture for upcoming exhibition In Media Res, which she is curating alongside the rest of the Industrial Design Research Lab at UWA. “We have organised a group of young designers to interrogate the limits, logics, flows, and narratives of materials and contemporary practices of furniture/object/textile design,” she says.


While the Cart Lamp is not currently available in the retail sense, Charlotte is exploring the idea of manufacturing.

 “It’s not currently available to purchase but I’ve had a request to make another, which will help me make further refinements to make it better suited for production,” she says.